of the senses did not bound his aspirations, and he be-
Chap. LXX.} 1776. July 2-4.
lieved more than he himself was aware of. He was an idealist in his habits of thought and life, as indeed is every one who has an abiding and thorough confidence in the people; and he was kept so in spite of circumstances by the irresistible bent of his character.
He had great power in mastering details as well as in searching for general principles.
His profession was that of the law, in which he was methodical, painstaking, and successful; at the same time he studied law as a science, and was well read in the law of nature and of nations.
Whatever he had to do, it was his custom to prepare himself for it carefully; and in public life, when others were at fault, they often found that he had already hewed out the way; so that in council men willingly gave him the lead, which he never appeared to claim, and was always able to undertake.
But he rarely spoke in public; and was less fit to engage in the war of debate, than calmly to sum up its conclusions.
It was a beautiful trait in his character that he was free from envy; and had he kept silence, John Adams
would have wanted the best witness to his greatness as the ablest advocate and defender of independence.
A common object now riveted the two statesmen together in close bonds.
I cannot find, that at that period, Jefferson
had an enemy; by the general consent of Virginia
, he already stood first among her civilians.
Just thirty three years old, married, and happy in his family, affluent, with a bright career before him, he was no rash innovator by his character or his position; if his convictions drove him to demand independence, it was only because he could no longer live with honor